Monday, September 24, 2012

Fit and Active (fit facts) The Right Front of Pack system?

   One of my classmates was eating a snack the other day and the package caught my attention.  I noticed that it had a front of pack label and that the back of the pack contained an explanation of the label system.  I did not recognize the brand of mini rice cakes.  I thought that the Quaker iced/frosted mini rice cake snacks had a new package and label.  I asked my friend if I could have her empty package.  I know, I am that weird.
   Turns out, the snack cakes were a store brand and the store has implemented this labeling across all its products.  It is from ALDI.  They refer to their scheme or system as Fit Facts.
   I am 100% in favor of a front of pack system or label that highlights nutrients that are important to consider in our diets.  Nutrients that we get too much of and should limit.  The problem is a lack of standardization over which nutrients should be highlighted.  The Institute of Medicine has given us some guidelines but the recommendations have not translated into rules - YET.  I wrote about them here, almost a year ago.
   The ALDI labeling, which you can see below does not make things clear for the shopper.  For example, the rice cakes package I 'borrowed' shows the amount in grams or milligrams(sodium) of four items.  I disagree with the inclusion of total fat because saturated fat is the item to limit and though three of the four show a percent daily value (which is suspect but helpful) the fourth SUGAR has no percent daily value because it has no daily value.  If the FOP system used was the multiple traffic light, the criteria would have each of those items as either red, amber or green. In the rice cake case, the sugar grams are 6.  That seems low right?  It's not.  The total weight of the package is 20grams.  That means that the product is 30% sugar.  The multiple traffic light (MTL) uses red to warn that a product is high in sugar if it contains as little as14% ! It is okay to eat this 90 calories and 6 grams of sugar, just don't tell yourself it is a low sugar product.
   The front of pack systems are needed and they can be helpful but  this label does not make it easy for you to know if something is "healthy."  We should not have to get out our calculators and divide 6 by 20 to get our percent of sugar!

The picture on the bottom left is the Front of Pack system.

No comments: